Updated: Jul 14, 2022
Summer is here, and with it, some absolutely stellar SFF titles. Some of these I’ve had the pleasure of reading before publication, while others I cannot wait to dive into!
Out of the Blue by Jason June
UK Release: 9th June
This is a delightful YA queer rom-com from the author of Jay’s Gay Agenda. Thank you to the Harper360 Team for sending me a proof copy.
Sean’s boyfriend dumps him while he’s at work. Good riddance if you ask me, but Sean is a romantic and wants him back. How’s he going to do that? Make him jealous by fake-dating a mermaid, of course.
From Jason June, author of the breakout teen debut novel Jay's Gay Agenda, comes Out of the Blue, a stand-alone dual POV queer rom-com that asks if love is enough to change everything you've grown up believing. Perfect for fans of Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly.
Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the month-long sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder-or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with. Humans are disgusting. They've polluted the planet so much that there's a floating island of trash that's literally the size of a country.
In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together, and Crest's perspective on humans begins to change, they'll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings . . .
This sophomore novel from Jason June dives into the many definitions of the word home and shows how love can help us find the truest versions of ourselves.
The Splendid City by Karen Heuler
UK Release: 14th June
I’ve been on an Angry Robot reading binge the last few weeks, and The Splendid City is their next release. Featuring a dystopian system, witchcraft and a talking cat, who wouldn’t be intrigued?
The Splendid City is the state of Liberty. Water is rationed at alarming prices, free speech is hardly without a cost, and Texas has just declared itself its own country. In this society, paranoia runs deep. Eyes and ears are all around in the form of giant animatronic president heads. They are judging. Always judging. And waiting to strike.
This terrifying terrain is explored via Eleanor – a young woman eagerly learning about the gifts of her magic through the support of her coven. Being a white witch is not as easy as portrayed in books. Eleanor has already been placed under house arrest. But not alone. She must coexist with a letch named Stan, a co-worker who wronged her in the past and now exists in the form of a cat. A talking cat, who loves himself, craft beers and ‘shooting’ people.
Eleanor has no time for Stan and his shenanigans. Their love-hate relationship takes many twists and turns while Eleanor helps to locate a missing witch who she thinks is mysteriously linked to the shortage of water in Liberty. But she should keep an eye on Stan. He is following a treasure hunt and won’t hesitate to trade Eleanor for the prize…
The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi
UK Release: 23rd June
The first instalment in a new epic trilogy set in a world inspired by Arabic and African mythology. Expect blood magic, feuding guilds, and a sapphic frenemies-to-lovers romance.
The Empire rules by blood.
Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the servants, of the crushed, of the invisible.
The Aktibar – a set of trials held every ten years to find the next Ember rulers of the Empire – is about to begin. All can join but not just anyone can win; it requires great skill and ingenuity to become the future wardens of Strength, Knowledge, Truth and Duty.
Sylah was destined to win the trials and be crowned Warden of Strength. Stolen by blue-blooded rebels she was raised with a Duster’s heart; forged as a weapon to bring down from within the red-blooded Embers’ regime of cruelty. But when her adopted family were brutally murdered, those dreams of a better future turned to dust.
However, the flame of hope may yet be rekindled because Sylah wasn’t made to sparkle, she was born to burn.
And it’s up to her whether she rules the empire or destroys it.
Out There: Into The Queer New Yonder, edited by Saundra Mitchell
UK Release: 7th July
Thank you Harper360 Team for sending me a proof copy!
With original contributions from seventeen queer YA authors, this anthology presents readers with a kaleidoscope of possibility. I was captivated from the very first story (Alex London, I’m going to need a full novel version of ‘Doublers,’ please!) to the very end (Leah Johnson truly knocked it out of the park!).
Venture into the queer new yonder!
Explore near-futures and far-off-worlds where the human consciousness can be uploaded into a body on Mars...where an alien helps a girl decide if she should tell her best friend how she feels...where two teens get stuck in a time loop at a space station...where people are forced to travel to the past or the future to escape the dying planet...where only a nonbinary person can translate the binary code of a machine that predicts the future...where everyone in the world vanishes except for two teen girls who are in love.
Contributor list: K. Ancrum, Kalynn Bayron, Z Brewer, Mason Deaver, Alechia Dow, Z.R. Ellor, Leah Johnson, Naomi Kanakia, Claire Kann, Alex London, Jim McCarthy, Abdi Nazemian, Emma K. Ohland, Adam Sass, Nita Tyndall, as well as debut contest winners Ugochi M. Agoawike and Mato J. Steger.
A Mirror Mended by Alix E Harrow
UK Release: 19 July 2022
New from Alix E. Harrow, A Mirror Mended is the second instalment in the Fractured Fables series. Catch up on the series with A Spindle Splintered.
Synopsis (Warning: Mild spoilers for A Spindle Splintered):
Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can't handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White's Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she's desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen's poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?
Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson
UK Release: 21st July
Pitched as “X-Men with witches,” Dawson’s adult debut has already received a wave of excellent reviews from writers and booksellers. It’s hard not to get swept up in the hype!
Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They are Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within.
There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple… but now it’s about to get apocalyptic.
Prepare to be bewitched by Juno Dawson’s first adult series. A story of ancient prophecies and modern dating, of sacred sisterhood and demonic frenemies.
They Came to Slay: The Queer Culture of DnD by Thom James Carter
Release: 28th July
Love Dungeons and Dragons? Me too! Want to know more about the queerness of DnD? Of course, you do! Luckily, Carter and 404 Ink have your back.
Queer people have always played Dungeons & Dragons, but since the mid-2010s, the queer dice-rolling magic- and might-wielding contingent have been taking up more space. They Came to Slay investigates just how the game became such a powerful mechanic for queer people to examine, explore, and come to terms with who they are, and how they want to lead their lives in real and imagined worlds alike.